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How I Cleared AWS Solution Architect Associate(SAA-C02) in 2 Weeks!

Vineethkumar Marpadge
Software Engineer at Accenture
・5 min read

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Hello Everyone !

I cleared "AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate(SAA-C02)" on 26th Aug 2020 and I thought of sharing my preparations and exam experience in this blog so that it may be useful for others who are planning to take the exam.

One of the most in-demand qualifications for cloud engineers is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate certification. While the focus of this article will be on exactly how to pass it, especially if you are not a cloud engineer, it is important to note why this certification can be so valuable.

The Solutions Architect - Associate focuses on 4 different domains, each carrying a percentage weighting in the exam:

  1. Design Resilient Architectures (30%)
  2. Design High-Performing Architectures (28%)
  3. Design Secure Applications and Architectures (24%)
  4. Design Cost-Optimized Architectures (18%)

Pre-requisites

As per AWS guidelines, examinee should have one year of hands-on experience in designing architecture, performance architecture, cost-efficient, fault-tolerant, and scalable distributed systems on AWS.

Join an Online Course

1.AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate 2020 by A Cloud Guru This Course is created by Ryan Kroonenburg and Mark Richman. I have personally used this course for the preparation and is the one stop shop for everything you need to pass the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam.

2.Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate 2020 It's created by Stephane Maarek, one of my favorite instructors and another AWS Certified Solutions Architect & Developer.

3.AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate 2020 This is a free course on youtube created by freecodecamp .This course can used an additional material to the above mentioned course. This provides has Cheat Sheets which can be very helpful for your preparation.

Practice Exams

1.AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exams It consists of 6 practice tests .Each question has detailed explanations at the end of each set that will help you gain a deeper understanding of the AWS services. The explanation provides an overview of the topic, reference links to AWS docs and a rationale on why the option is correct or incorrect.

2.Whizlabs free test . I purchased their practice set and its good and only ~700 INR and you will get around 400+ sample questions with detailed explanation.

3.SimpliLearn free test.

Exam Preparation

  • Step 1 : Complete All Udemy Modules.Take detailed notes and build an organized study guide.(spend at least 4-5 hours daily in learning and revising concepts)
  • Step 2: If still any doubt and you want to learn in a simple language, please refer this link to clear your doubt. I find it very helpful as sometimes, we may not be able to understand the Cloud Terminology. I watched this for VPC,Load balancer and other important series.
  • Step 3: Create a VPC ( Virtual Private Cloud ) with your own memory.
  • Step 4: Pick each service/topic mentioned in the exact guide, read its corresponding technical documentation and try to use that service from AWS Management Console using your free tier account.
  • Step 5: In addition to reading about individual services look at reference architectures and read the principles behind these - AWS | Application Architecture Center.
  • Step 6: Try to Practice as much as mock exam given in the udemy course and other free practice tests. Make sure concepts are clear.

Work on Hands-on AWS Labs

Practice inside AWS console is very important if you aspire to work as a Solution Architect for AWS Cloud. In general, I advise to join a course that also has practice labs and also opens an AWS free tier account.
Since you only remember if you do the stuff, these AWS practical sessions will help you to understand and memorize the services which you are reading like EC2, S3, DynamoDB, IAM, and others. You can sign up for a free AWS account here.

Read AWS White Papers

If you want to go one step more, you can also read AWS documentation as it provides the most up-to-date information, which is undoubtedly an essential factor given AWS is still evolving, and there are hundreds of updates to catch up.
Alternatively, you can also see videos of AWS weekly on ACloudGuru's youtube channel , which is a great way to keep up-to-date with new AWS changes. Here is the link to read AWS whitepapers.

Read FAQ's

Read FAQs of S3, IAM, EC2, VPC, SQS, Autoscaling, Elastic Load Balancer, EBS, RDS, Lambda, API Gateway, ECS. Here is the link to read AWS FAQ's.

Exam Tips

  1. If you see any questions on DB read performance issue, always go for answers having Read Replica keyword in the option.
  2. If you see any question on highly available architecture, always go for answers having Multi AZ keyword in the option.
  3. If you see any question on traversing internet from Private subnet then always go for answers having NAT Gateway in the options.
  4. If you are confused in selecting the preferred RDS DB name then always go for Aurora ( Amazon own DB ).
  5. If you see any IOT devices in the keyword then go for Kinesis.
  6. Do not assume that , we have to always the answers having Cost effective unless this is not asked in questions. Priority is high availability architecture.
  7. I would suggest do not read for AWS Whitepapers as it will be at very high and expert level.
  8. Security Group Vs NACL
  9. S3 Storage Classes.
  10. Fault tolerance and high availability both are different terms make sure while selecting the answer what solution will be the best.
  11. Instead of setting up everything from scratch always prefer to use AWS managed services.
  12. If you find more than one options are correct but you have to select any one of them, then go with the one which is most cost-effective.
  13. Get hands-on experience through the free tier that AWS avails for its services

Exam Day

  • As part of check in process link for home , you have to take 6 photographs and upload (your face, your id, then your room (4 angles)
  • Have your passport or driving license ready. You can check the FAQ here link to see which all documents are accepted as ID proof.
  • Login 30 minutes before the exam and click on 'Begin exam' and start the check in process. If you face issues, process may go up to 1 hr. It took 50 minutes for me. (If everything goes fine, you can finish check-in process in 15 minutes)
  • During exam time, you need to be in front of the webcam full time. No break allowed! Also ensure no one enter the room during the exam.

Useful Links from AWS officials website

AWS certified solutions architect associate
AWS Exam guide
AWS Certifications FAQ's
AWS Sample Paper
AWS Whitepapers
All the best guys!!!

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